Ordinary rubbish day for most New Zealanders is the pinnacle of the working week.
Everywhere, on every street, there are clacky flip-flops, teamed with pressed work slacks, striding the cold bitumen driveways to get the bins out on time. There is side-eye and derision over who should do it. Mum? Or Dad? Or Tarquin? It’s a great way of getting him out of bed in the mornings and is really character-building.
Mum insists on putting them out on the day, with the theory that it prevents others from filling the bins with their own waste, in the secrecy of the night. Dad performs a serious eye-roll, one not seen since the time Mum tried to set up the MySky to record every episode of Dancing with the Stars, but only ended up recording Dances With Wolves.
Some people on my street desperately wheel their bins to the other side, because they forgot it was rubbish day and hastily make a quick mercy dash from work in their lunch hour to deal to the bins. And woe betide if the over-the-road neighbours are home; it’s a bit of a shitshow but what choice is left?
Others remain unsure whether the truck has come yet, and meaningfully wander to the nearest bin and expose its innards to check whether it’s just their bin that hasn’t been emptied, or is it the whole street?
Some wait and watch as the trucks come and swoop down and claw the helpless receptacles aloft, dumping the week’s worth of refuse into the abyss of rate-payer machinery. They then whip the bins inside the gate, because you never know, someone may grab the wrong bin and then it’s an awkward late-night reconnoitre to retrieve the lost property.
Then there’s the yearly rubbish collection of inorganic things that we collected free from the last curbside dumping and no longer require.
The inorganic brings out the strangest things, and people are on it all like flies, grazing on the trash, picking through for copper, wire, electrics, anything that could be resold; and toys, carpets, linen baskets.
Large vans ride, snug along the road gutter, doors opening and grasping the not-working lamps and the mould-spotted occasional chair.
And then the council men come with their trucks and the homeowners stand in their driveways, hands on hips, watching the cracked plastic half-shell paddling pool, the baby car seat, the rusted clothes airer and the cheap white bookcases launch into the truck-jaws.
The thing we wanted rid of for the last two years but couldn’t be fucked paying for a trailer is now safely destined for a landfill and how pleased we are at ourselves for finally hauling arse to get it the two metres out onto the berm.
It always rains on inorganic weekend. The sodden carpets loaded up; the trucks fly off to the next street over, and the residents slowly return to their houses, to surf Trade Me for more unbelievable crap to put out in next year’s collection.